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Seven Secrets For Building Customer Loyalty In Your Restaurant

By Habiba Abubakar
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Imagine how much your sales and profits would increase if each of your customers come back just one more time a week or a month. You would boost your sales by 50%. Getting your existing customer base to visit more often is easier than you think. This is because, unlike a prospective customer who has never dined at your restaurant, your existing customer has already tried your food and service and therefore trusts you. Here are seven strategies for getting your customers to come back again and again.

1. Use “Turned Away Guest” Vouchers
Imagine having a night when you are so booked up that you literally have to turn customers away at the door. Of course that's every restaurant owner’s dream come true because it means significant profits. However, your dream come true may be a big disappointment for unlucky customers who can't get a table. Instead of turning them away empty-handed, give them a voucher for something free or for a discount on their next visit. Remind them to call ahead so you can reserve them a great table for their next visit.

2. Reward Referrals
People rarely do something for nothing in today's world, but when customers tell others about your restaurant, they are doing you a favor and expecting nothing in return. You can surprise them by rewarding their effort. Send them a certificate for a free meal, a discount coupon, a V.I.P card (for immediate seating), or some other token of your appreciation. They'll be more likely to continue spreading the word.

3. Mail “Thank You” Notes
Everyone likes to hear “thank you” every now and then, so when a customer does something nice for your business, make sure you show them that you appreciate it. Referring new customers or bringing in large groups are just two reasons why you should send a personalised thank you note to one of your valued guests.

4. Use Bounce-Backs
A bounce-back certificate is what you give to customers during one visit to encourage them to come back for a second visit. For example, if a customer orders take-away, you can slip a bounce-back certificate in with their food. You can also use bounce-back certificates to deal with minor customer complaints or to apologise to guests who don't want to wait on busy nights. Your certificates can offer something free, provide a percentage off discount, or give some other special that will lure customers back into your establishment.

5. Play The Continuity Game
Have you ever wondered why kids' meals at fast food restaurants always sell so well? Part of the reason is that children love to collect all of the toys that come with the meals. You can use this to your advantage with adults too. For example, you could work with a book publisher to create a series of five recipe books. Your customers would receive one of the five books after each dine-in or take-away meal. To collect the whole set, they'll have to eat at your restaurant five times.

6. Let Your Customers Give You Feedback
Who better could tell you what you're doing right and what you need to improve on, than an actual customer? Talk to them and let them provide you with some valuable feedback. Don't worry, asking the customer's advice won't scare them off. In fact, it will increase their loyalty because it shows that you care enough about the quality of their experience at your restaurant. Use questionnaires, suggestion boxes and comment cards.

7. Start A Frequent Diner Club
A frequent diner club provides guests with an incentive to come back more often to your restaurant and to NOT go elsewhere for a meal. It rewards customers for coming back often. For example, some restaurants give customers a card and each time they make a purchase the card is stamped. When the card is full, the customer receives a free meal. Your customers will be willing to wait for a table longer and travel a greater distance if they know they're working towards free food.

Copyright © 2004 Habiba Abubakar and Emprez. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Habiba Abubakar, a.k.a. Restaurant Marketing Diva, is the author of 25 Powerful Ways To Make Your Customers Visit Your Restaurant More Often With Their Family And Friends. Habiba helps restaurant owners and managers who are struggling to attract more customers and are finding it hard to build customer loyalty. Be sure to sign up for your FREE copy of her revealing report, FOUR Things You can Do To Skyrocket Your Restaurant's Profits In 90 Days or Less. Just go to (


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